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New Bucs DE Jason Pierre Paul still great reminder of July 4th safety

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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The Buccaneers are excited to see what former USF and New York Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul can do on the field in Tampa Bay this fall. After being acquired in a trade with the G-men in March, Pierre Paul hopes to energize an almost non-existent Bucs pass rush from last year.

One thing is for sure, as much as he’s known for being a star on the field, Pierre Paul has become a reminder of “what not to do” and specifically fireworks safety on July 4th.

It was three years ago Wednesday night that Pierre Paul’s decision to celebrate and ignite amateur hand-held fireworks in South Florida led to a horrific and potentially, career threatening right hand injury.

But, out of what could have been football tragedy involving his  hand, Pierre-Paul has made a comeback and is now a national PSA symbol for firework safety.

The beginning of Pierre Paul’s football story is the Deerfield Beach, as a native of Hatian immigrant parents playing  as a Juco star in both California and Kansas. Then, he was brought back to Florida, by coach Jim Leavitt and staff, as USF’s dominant pass rusher in 2009. That year he attained All Big East honors with 6.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss for the Bulls.

This fast tracked Pierre Paul to the NFL after only one season in Tampa and he was drafted 15th overall by the Giants in the 2010 NFL Draft.

After a rookie year with 4.5 sacks, he burst on the pro scene in season two with 16.5 sacks for the G-men leading to a Pro Bowl selection and was part of the New York Superbowl victory over the Patriots that February.

Pierre-Paul continued to be regarded as the Giants most consistent pass rushing threat and had another double digit sack season with 12.5 in 2014.

Then came the off season of 2015, where he chose not to sign his one year Franchise Player free agent tender (the Giants still had his exclusive rights) seeking a longer term deal. And, he remained unsigned as of July 4th that year.

That night in 2015 he loaded up a van with handheld amateur fireworks and with friends and neighbors began shooting them off until one obviously malfunctioned and mangled his right hand. Pierre-Paul was hospitalized and eventually had multiple surgeries on the hand and his right index finger amputated.

The Giants stood by him, when they could have dumped him for non-football injury, and he eventually made his way back onto the field in November of 2015. Signing a “pro rated” week to week one year deal, his debut came as New York traveled to Raymond James Stadium (Pierre-Paul’s USF home for a season) and he played with a padded “club” protecting his right hand against the Bucs.

He would play in eight total games that season with one sack and then, as further proof of the Giants being in his corner, they re-signed him on a one year $10 million deal for 2016. Pierre-Paul then worked a year ago with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on a July 4th fireworks safety video:

The gnarly image and video of Pierre-Pauls right hand is obviously the deterrent the agency is looking for with the PSA campaign about safety. He played 2016 with a special padded glove to protect the hand/fingers registering another seven sacks before being placed on I.R. with a sports hernia.

Finally, and happiest of all financial endings after the fireworks disaster, Pierre-Paul inked a four year $62 million deal with $40 million guaranteed in March of last year to stay, so he thought, in New York.

Alas, the Giants had a nightmare of a 2017 season that finished at 3-13. Pierre-Paul had a solid season with 8.5 sacks and 68 total tackles despite the dismal team finish.
Then, Bucs GM Jason Licht swung the deal for Pierre-Paul and Tampa Bay agreed to assume his $12.1 million dollar salary for 2018.

So, while it all worked out in the end, obviously, the Jason Pierre-Paul July 4th fireworks mess could have had a much different ending all the way around for he, the Giants and now, the Bucs.

It’s a reminder to stay safe Wednesday night. Leave the handheld fireworks to someone else.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Arians wouldn’t endorse Winston future Wednesday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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With four games to go, the Buccaneers have been improved the last two weeks and Come Away with victories. However the largest question still looming for them is what is the future of quarterback Jameis Winston be on this season?

And on Wednesday afternoon, first-year coach Bruce Arians created buzz when he refused to endorse Winston coming back for his second season.

Arians met with the media after Tampa Bay’s practice preparing for the Colts and was asked whether Winston had done enough to earn at least a contract for 2020?

“I’m gonna pass on that one. I’m gonna wait until the end of December. There’s been really, really good. And there’s been some really, really bad…. I’m just going to pass until it’s over. And then, we’ll make a decision.”

Winston is currently in the 5th year option of his rookie deal that is paying him $20 million for this season. If the Buccaneers choose to place the franchise tag on Winston, he would likely be making around $25 million for next year.

Winston has been a mixed bag of some success but still way too many turnovers. Heading into this weekend’s play, he currently is 2nd in the NFL in passing yards and tied for 6th with 22 touchdown passes. Winston also had a six-game stretch with 300 yards or more in each one of them, which was the first time in Buccaneers history the quarterback had done that.

However, he has been unable to shake the biggest flaw that has dogged him since his Florida State days, and that’s interceptions and turnovers. Winston still leads the NFL with 25 turnovers through 12 games.

And, this includes three games this season where Winston has had four or more turnovers (all losses), including four interceptions three weeks ago in a crushing home loss to the Saints.

Arians decided to soften his stance a bit during his weekly appearance on SiriusXM NFL radio channel Wednesday night:

However, he still repeated that the decision will be made after the season.

And, it’s obvious that if Winston plays well and the Bucs win at least a couple of more games, then he’s got a great shot to be brought back. However, if Winston continues the turnover problem and the Bucs aren’t winning. that may seal his fate.

Tampa Bay has only one winning season and has never made the playoffs with Winston at the helm. And, the interceptions, turnovers and losing may be too much to overcome.

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Bucs bash Jacksonville- Jaguars to turn back to QB Minshew?

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
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The Bucs put together a third win in four games primarily with their defense stuffing the Jaguars on their way to a 28 – 11 victory Sunday. Meanwhile, there’s a larger question looming for the Jags. Will they turn back to rookie QB Gardner Minshew?

More on that in moment.

First, Tampa Bay forced four turnovers and turned the first three of them into touchdowns building a 22-0 lead and never looked back.

The first one was by rookie first-round pick linebacker Devin White, who jumped in front of a Nick Foles pass and the Bucs promptly marched 69 yards in eight plays for their first points, as Peyton Barber capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run and  7 – 0 lead.

The Buccaneers wasted no time in getting their second turnover and immediately, got back in the end zone. This as, just 10 seconds later Shaq Barrett blindsided Foles for a sack/fumble that was picked up by White.

He ran it in for his first NFL score, and Barber added a two-point conversion on a run and the lead grew to 15-0.

Foles, making his third start since returning from a broken collarbone in week one, and the Jaguars were actually moving the ball later in the second quarter. They got into the Red Zone, but he was sacked, again, this time by Carl Nassib and fumbled again. That was recovered by Ndamukong Suh, and Tampa Bay proceeded to drive 85 yards with Barber scoring again on a 1-yard run for the three touchdown cushion.

Down 25 – 0 starting the second half, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone went back to his starter earlier in the year- rookie sixth round pick Gardner Minshew. Minshew, who won four games in Foles’ absence, led Jacksonville on two scoring drives, including throwing a three yard TD to Dede Westbrook early in the fourth quarter. Minshew also scrambled and found Westbrook for the two-point conversion to trim the lead to 25 – 11.

It looked as though “Minshew Mania” was going to bite the Buccaneers, as the Jags drove inside the Tampa Bay 10-yard line with plenty of time remaining, but on a third-down and goal play, Minshew was intercepted by Buccaneers rookie defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting which basically ended their comeback.

The Bucs added a Matt Gay field goal late in the fourth quarter for the final margin of 17 points.

Tampa Bay won back-to-back games for the first time this season and now will get three of the final four games of the year at home.

Meanwhile for Jaguars brass and Marrone, they definitely have  a controversy on their hands, as the Jags have dropped four straight games. And, Foles has played poorly in his two-and-a-half game since being reinstated as the starter.

The crowd was booing and chanting “Minshew, Minshew” loudly from the middle of the second quarter on.

But, it’s also not an easy decision from a financial standpoint, as Foles is still owed more is $30 million over the next couple of years in guaranteed money.

For his part, Marrone said that he would make the decision and inform the QBs about who will start against the Chargers at home this Sunday. And that could come, as soon as Monday.

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